As with any cancer, catching cancer in children early can dramatically alter their chances of overcoming this terrible disease. With the Child Cancer initiative and the symptoms associated with that slogan, more children than ever are getting that early diagnosis that makes all the difference. But for those suffering from it, cancer in children doesn’t end with that early diagnosis.
Being a cancer patient is tough, its hard mentally, and physically too with some treatments, and this is even more true for children, who are particularly vulnerable to weakening during processes such as chemotherapy. It can be tempting to isolate a child from the consequences of such a diagnosis, but while child cancer is a frightening experience for the patient and parents, you can prepare a child for what is to come and help them overcome a lot of the fear and anxiety while doing so.
The kind of fear a child will experience depends on their age to an extent. The youngest ones will mostly fear being separated from their parents, while older ones will worry about the pain and difficulty that goes with some treatments. Teenagers worry about that pain and difficulty too, but are often self-conscious about their bodies too, and embarrassed to talk about any of this. Each presents a different challenge for parents, but the process is the same.
It is important to be honest and open about what is to come. That doesn’t mean frighten the child, you don’t have to go into graphic detail about anything but explain what will happen, so they understand. The shock of the unexpected is more frightening or stressful than knowing what to expect. Always encourage questions, not just with you as parents, but make sure the child knows that they can ask the medical professionals about anything they are unsure of as well.
This also included preparing them for times you cannot be with them during treatment. If they know in advance it can lessen the impact but remember to always make it clear you will be there for them as soon as they are out, and you are allowed back to the room. The key is to be clear and honest, allow the child to adjust to this new situation before they have to deal with it. There are no easy solutions, and it is difficult for everyone, but by making sure you give each child the information and support they need, it need not be a journey into the unknown for them.